The Darkest Star (Origin 1) - Page 105

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“Mom—”

“Your real name is Nadine Holliday.”

Every muscle in my body froze as the phone slipped from my fingers, falling back into the pocket. I lifted my gaze to hers.

“That was your name—is your name.” Her upper lip thinned. “But you were called Nadia for short.”

“No,” I whispered. My brain sort of emptied of all thought. For several precious moments there was nothing in my head. Nothing but the buzzing, which was now louder and more incessant.

“That’s what Luc called you. Nadia.”

A jolt traveled through my system. “No.”

“You were a very sick girl when I first met you. A blood cancer. And while some of the treatments we’d developed had been successful with less-invasive cancers, yours was very aggressive. You were dying, and Luc had tried many different things,” she continued, even as I began to shake my head. “He knew that we—the Daedalus—had different serums, but nothing he’d been able to get his hands on had worked.”

I backed up, bumping into the sink. This couldn’t be real. I was dreaming. I had to be. That made more sense, because nothing she was saying was possible.

“Luc came after Jason. He was going to kill him for the things he’d done to . . . all those innocent people, but Jason . . . he knew about you. Jason knew you were dying, and he was ever the opportunist. He bartered his life for yours. There was a new serum that the Daedalus had just designed, right before the invasion. We . . . we called it the Andromeda serum, and the Daedalus had amazing success with it. Jason offered the treatment in return for his life, and Luc . . .”

Her shoulders tensed as she exhaled roughly. “Luc was desperate. He had to be to let Jason live, because Jason had—” She cut herself off with a quick shake of her head. “Luc brought you here, just after the war with the invading Luxen ended. I met him in this room for the first time, in this kitchen. I met you for the first time that day. Jason had already told me what to bring.”

Nothing she was saying made sense. We’d lived in Hagerstown before the invasion—

Hagerstown.

Luc had said Nadia had been from Hagerstown.

A shudder worked its way through me.

“You were so sick. Just this small thing struggling for every breath and heartbeat, and Luc was near rabid when it came to you. He would’ve sacrificed everyone around him if that meant you’d live, and he did. In a way, he sacrificed you. He knew there was a good chance what it meant if the Andromeda serum was successful—”

“Stop.” I held up my hand as if I could ward off what she was saying. “Just stop. This is insane and impossible.” I started around the island, having no idea where I needed to go, but knowing I just needed to get out of there.

I couldn’t listen to this.

Mom rose from the stool, moving faster than I’d ever seen her do before. So fast, I jerked back with a gasp. She cradled my cheeks in her cool palms. “Listen to me, honey. You were given the Andromeda serum. That serum acted like a virus once inside the body. It attacked the cancer cells as it reshaped your genetic material, the very core of who you were. Like any virus, it causes a fever, an extremely high one. Most of our subjects we tested didn’t even survive the fever, but I cared for you myself. I stayed by your side, day and night—”

“Stop it!” I shouted, trying to break free. “Why are you saying this stuff? Why are you doing this?”

Mom dropped her hands to my shoulders and gripped them, holding me in place with surprising strength. “You lost your memories, just like we told Luc would happen. It was the fever, but you survived it and you . . . became Evelyn.”

Wrenching free of her grasp, I darted to the side. “Do you know how insane all of this sounds?”

“The Andromeda serum had alien DNA and now so do you,” she continued. “Not enough to trigger a retinal scan or simple blood work unless extensive typing is done. That was why there was no trace when Luc healed you. That was why he came to me last night. He wanted to know what we—what I had done to you when I healed you.”

“I have alien DNA in me?” I laughed.

Mom wasn’t laughing. “You do.”

“Oh my God.” Another laugh burst out of me, sounding brittle. “This is absolutely nutty, and I don’t even know what to say to you right now.”

“It’s the truth.”

“No. It’s some kind of joke I’m missing the punch line to.” I started around the island again.

You’re still so incredibly stubborn.

My throat threatened to seal up. I pushed Luc’s words from my mind. “And I just need you to stop—”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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